After mounting pressure from awesome teen girls like Julia Bluhm and organizations like SPARK to quit airbrushing teens and use a more diverse range of body types and appearances, not to mention plenty of resistance from the magazine itself, it seems as if Seventeen magazine has finally started to listen. Or at least, thats what a letter from the editor in this months edition says, according to Kaye Toals article on Upworthy. But unfortunately, the letter smells an awful lot like Vogues recent batch of empty promises, and Im pretty sure its going to be more business as usual. Bummer.
The letter, which Bluhm and others are considering a win, announces something called the Body Peace Treaty, a list of nice-sounding promises that Seventeen swears theyll uphold, accompanied by a list of vows they hope their readers will uphold, all of which is focused on body-positivity and promoting good self-esteem. Which is important because theyre a magazine squarely aimed on the age group that is most impacted by imagery and potential self-esteem pitfalls, and it would be irresponsible not to celebrate diversity and show teens realistic role models, right? Right. Yay!
And yetand yet.all of the promises are so vague. Almost as if they arent planning on making any changes at all, but realized they could no longer dig in their heels and ignore the rising tide of teens and advocates who think its unacceptable to sell perfection to teens.
The Body Peace Treaty declares that Seventeen will uphold their current practice of not editing faces and bodies , as well as only cast healthy models, be totally upfront about what goes on at photoshoots , and try to inspire teen girls to be healthy, from eating right to exercising. All of which are claims Seventeen has made beforeincluding that they never airbrushed, ever, everbut this time, they put it in a treaty, so they really mean business. But this feels very familiar. Where have I seen all of this before?
Oh right. Vogue. Who released a similarly vague list of promises, and then quickly decided that being ambassadors for positive body image was best achieved by using models, instead of female athletes to illustrate the Olympics, and nude, rail-thin real women, including one who was smoking. Also, cutting off a leg.
To be fair, the actual treaty itself, which is encouraging girls to hop on board the S.S. Body Positivity and is available on Seventeens website, is a little better than what the magazine says its going to do. Heres a snippet from it. It begins with I Vow To
Thats pretty great. But that last oneabout reminding yourself that what you see in adsrings a little hollow, considering Seventeens treaty about what they vow to do does absolutely nothing to change their policies of using sexed-up full-page ads for Candies and LOreal. So what are they saying? Hey, were going to keep it up, but just remember, its all a lie and try not to feel bad about yourself because of it? Im really not sure thats good enough.
But lets not let it end here, OK? Because our teens deserve better than a pack of promises and no real action.
Image of actual Seventeen magazine pages via Mommyish, who have been crushing it on this beat.
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